Will Iran's Nuclear Promise Resolve Crisis?
October 26, 2003
We discussed Iran and nuclear weapons in our global phone-in programme Talking Point. Our guests were Dr Rajaee Khorasani, former Iranian ambassador to the UN, and Judith Kipper, of the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington.
Watch the programme http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsa/n5ctrl/progs/talkingpoint/03/26oct.ram
Listen to the programme http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsa/n5ctrl/progs/talkingpoint/03/26oct_audio.ram
Iran says that it will accept tougher UN inspections of its nuclear facilities in order to allay international concern over its nuclear programme.
Iran delivered a report to the UN atomic energy watchdog which, it says, discloses all its nuclear activities.
There had been accusations that Iran was secretly developing atomic weapons.
Now Iran has promised to voluntarily suspend all its uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities, in line with a resolution by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
The comments published reflect the balance of views received:
What crisis? The development of advanced technology such as nuclear weapons can only be accomplished by a nation with zeal. But anyone who has lived in any of the oil-rich counties of the Middle East knows that no such zeal exists. You may see young Muslim zealots yelling slogans and burning flags in front of the cameras, but all that withers way very fast. The same goes for Iran. I can assure the Americans that even if they leave the Iranians to themselves, Iran won't even have a small nuclear reactor 30 years from now, let alone the technology to build A-bombs.
Hashem, Tehran, Iran
No matter how much Iran changes when it doesn't satisfy US requirement. It always a crisis.
If there is ever a counter revolution and a new democratic government takes hold then we wouldn't have a crisis. If Iran becomes a democracy we will treat it the same as we treat Israel; as a democratic country in the Middle East. In that case we wouldn't mind them having nuclear weapons.
Colin Keesee, USA
Like always, Europe jumps onto America's bandwagon at the very last minute. Takes the credit for getting Iran to sign up for tougher IAEA inspections. And leaves America looking like a bully.
Justin Hughes, Tacoma, US
In the words of our great President Reagan: "Trust but verify," and "There you go again." This latter quote speaks to a continuing saga as demonstrated by North Korea, Saddam, and countless other regimes who held veiled ambitions. Add Iran to that list.
Mike Wiley, USA
The problem that Iran is dealing with is the fact that it is in the Middle East and no matter what it does it will not satisfy the US. They are determined to change the entire Middle East to suit theirs and Israel's desires. I only hope that there won't be too many innocent people killed.
Susan, Busan, South Korea
Israel lives in what Binyamin Netanyahu once famously described as a "tough neighbourhood" and consequently has a large illegal nuclear arsenal to protect its interests. In my opinion Iran also lives in a "tough neighbourhood". How is it that the one can get away without even signing the NPT and the other is considered a risk to regional and even world stability?
Darius B., London
It appears that there is a belief that Nuclear weapons guarantee security. Since when?
Michael, Brandenburg, USA
The strained relations between the US and Iran is nothing new, and the recent US condemnations of Iran is just another sign of the fact that America feels deeply threatened by one of the stronger powers of the Middle East. Every major power is carrying out some kind of nuclear program and I'm sure no power has greater weapons of mass destruction than the US itself.
The US has had a regime change agenda for Iran for the last 23 years because Iran is the only country in the world that the US cannot influence and has the potential to be a huge world power. Sanctions, accusations, and embargos have done little to weaken the Islamic regime even though the country is in ruin. Mr Bush now has moved the Iran agenda off the back burner and put it on high heat on the front burner. Iran can sign all the IAEA protocols its wants but that will not stop the Bush administration from making increasing accusations until the bombs start falling on Tehran.
Iran has signed the NPT treaty, because it wants the technology for civilian use and not to make war! I think you must be very careful, when speaking about Iran. Iran is a country which could keep a culture more than 7000 years. Which other culture was so strong to survive for such a long time? American culture?
S. M., Iran
I believe Iran has cleverly shifted the debate about having nuclear reactors to weapons. Now that they have agreed to sign the second protocol with the IAEA, they can quietly get on with completing their nuclear power reactors. Good PR work.
Iran, just like Iraq is nothing but a laughing stock in the Middle East. Iran is allowing its hands to be tied just like Iraq under Saddam, then would be attacked or cornered. Iran is not a man in this geo-political world. The west rule!
Tele G, Cayman
The Islamic Republic can not be trusted. They lied to Iranian people and that's how they came to power and they are lying to the world now. What the foreign ministers regard as a diplomatic victory is just worthless sound bites from a tyrannical regime that is cornered by the US.
Sasan Basiri, London - UK
I think asking Iran not to build Nuclear weapons is clear double standards when applied to Israel large nuclear, chemical and biological US built weapons. I think everyone should be disarmed not just the 'foreign' looking people.
It is more of a decision than a promise. An agreement with the IAEA - through the facilitation of Germany, France and the UK - means an agreement with the UN. In light of Iran's positive posture as a UN member in recent years, a full cooperation seems to be in sight. Washington needs to lower the tone of its rhetoric, especially when it comes to UN affairs and the dynamics of collective action. By fully cooperating with the UN, Iran sets its credibility a notch higher with Asians and Europeans. Americans will be expected to continue to be weary of Iran and its intentions. The IAEA inspection ball is set to continue, and the likely candidates for the next round are Syria and Israel, a very difficult juncture indeed. I think Iran will come forth as a good example for cooperation.
Samr Eboon, Henfield, UK
America is searching Iraq, Iran, for nuclear this and nuclear that, why don't they search Israel?? And when America rids everyone of their nuclear stash, I wonder who will search, and rid America of its nuclear weapons?
Edith Caroli, USA
USA has big nuclear arsenal, strangely it says Nuclear bomb is dangerous, I wonder dangerous for whom? USA unilateral military action on a small nation?
It is somewhat ironic that the countries desperately trying to stop other countries getting nuclear weapons are themselves the ones with enough fire power to annihilate us all. Same goes with chemical and biological weapons. I don't think any country should have nuclear weapons, but while the UK has, why shouldn't Iran, Iraq and Outer Mongolia? Because we're democratic? Democratic does not necessarily mean unaggressive, as the history of the twentieth and now the twenty-first century have shown.
Katherine, London, UK
All depends on what are the projects of the US administration for Iran. As for today, US officials did not frequently use words and expressions like "human rights", "evil", "terrorism", "mass destruction", "preventing threat to the international peace", in their statements about Iran. So, wait and see!
Chadi Bou Habib, Lebanon
Iran has now created an example for countries like North Korea of what a nation's approach must be in terms of nuclear issue. Well done Iran by opening your gates and welcoming the tougher UN inspections. This will surely help in clarifying many doubts that world community has. It is indeed a positive step. North Korea, are you listening? Learn something from Iran.
Shubham Agnihotri, India/Taipei
Unless international inspectors are allowed the freedom to inspect when and where they choose to, within Iran, there are no certainties that the diplomacy is anything approaching an honest statement of fact. What better way to conceal a program for the production of weapons of mass destruction than to say that no such program exists, while somewhere, in secret, the program is accelerated? The IAEA has neither the technological capabilities, nor the teeth, to assure that secret weapons programs do not exist. A more powerful, more technically sophisticated, intelligence gathering organization is necessary to confirm Iran's or any nation's claims regarding WMD.
Robert Morpheal, Canada
Apart from coveting Iranian petroleum, the Bush administration wants to create a strategic arc of control from the Mediterranean to the Chinese border. The Iranians understand this, and know that notwithstanding any protocols signed, or assurances agreed, wider US objectives for the region make aggression almost certain. Iranian politicians, conservative and reformist alike, know that without a nuclear deterrent they will go the same way as Iraq.
Paris Massenheim, Hannover, Germany
The good will gesture of Iran, by letting UN inspections to see its nuclear program is a positive step in demonstrating its peaceful nuclear intention of using atomic energy for producing electricity and other applications. Once you have the basic knowledge of this technology, is easy to switch to other more offensive purposes.
Jose Nigrin, Guatemala
Iranians must know that conservative interests in Washington debated attacking Iran even before we invaded Iraq. Non-nuclear Iraq was invaded. Nuclear North Korea hasn't been. The EU ministers couldn't stop the US from attacking Iraq and can't guaranty Iran's immunity from US attack. Therefore it's likely that Iran will continue surreptitious nuclear weapons development.
Jim Hopewell, USA
I'm an Iranian/Arab who lived in Iran for most of his life. The question that everyone is asking and it's being ignored is why they didn't sign the protocol themselves? Also Israel is producing weapons of mass destruction and the world is turning a blind eye on this issue, which is the most important threat in the Middle East currently. Iran has accepted the protocol unlike US and Israel to their amazement.
Ehsan Hassani, London
The promise by the Iranians can silence and divert the focus for the time being, but in the long run countries like Iran, North Korea and the like would attain the capability, as they feel, they are being threatened by the United States!
Srinivasan Toft, Humlebæk, Denmark
An excellent development! Not only should it deter Israel from expanding it's explosive so-called war on terror to neighbouring countries (e.g. Syria recently) but it also proves that dialogue is the best way forward, be it between US-Iran or Israel-Palestine.
S Rizvi, London, UK
I am eagerly looking forward for a prosperous Iran. But what I think is that the threat is not over. Israel is the most prominent nuclear country in the Middle East. If we want to suspend our plans the Israelis are the only winners of the game. We did not want them anything in return. We missed the last ace. I hope that Israel understands what it means to her. If our entity is going to be endangered we certainly will reactivate our arsenals.
Mahdi, Tehran, Iran
The US is forcing governments around the world to get nuclear if they don't they might be next on their hit list. Everyone knows they won't attack another nuclear power see North Korea. just when people were starting to feel a bit safe again after the cold war arms race a new one has begun and I must say the only ones to blame are the US as you can't tell other nations they are not allowed to defend themselves when they are facing a real threat coming from a so called "democratic" country.
In my view this is all a pretence to a run-up to war. Everyone knows Iran will not accept its sovereignty to be exposed to any foreign nation, and quite rightly too. Would the Soviet Union accept lightening checks by Iranian inspectors in Chechnya to see if the alleged massacres are true? The West is just building the case for war with Iran as they did Iraq. Slowly, slowly feeding us the rhetoric that they fed us about the 'bad people' of Iraq. The 'Evil' Iranian government has been in power for 20 years which in that time it has always been seeking nuclear weapons, oppressed its people in and out of Iran and 'now' the West takes heed?
Amir, United Kingdom
It would be preferable to see the entire region free from nuclear weapons, but if Israel has them, I'd prefer to see Iran have them as well. The threat of mutually assured destruction was the only thing that kept the Cold War cold, and as the USA won't even acknowledge Israel's WMD, let alone urge them to disarm, their whingeing about Iran should be dismissed as contemptible hypocrisy.
Jon E, France
Deeds and not words. Evidence or inspections before 31 October 2003. Do I believe the religious leaders of Iran? No. In my view, they talk peace but prepare for war. They talk moderation but underwrite terrorism. They talk freedom of religion while suppressing all others. Their record on human rights speaks for itself. In short it serves no point to listen to their promises, just look at what they do.
Peter, JHB, South Africa
Why should Iran not develop nuclear weapons? Should it just roll over and die when the tanks, helicopter gun ships and missiles of the Americans come rolling in? Just like Iraq did. It's about time countries stood up to the Americans. Notice how the Americans are treating North Korea with kid gloves because it had nuclear weapons. If the US wants other countries to disarm then they should set an example and get rid of all of their own weapons of mass destruction.
The only way to deal with a fundamentalist regime is with strength. Bowing to Iran, offering them "technical assistance" in exchange for access will be seen by future generations in the West as a complete dereliction of duty by our present day ruling elite, in particular by the EU. Appeasement never works out - something leaders in the West seem to have forgotten.
A country has the right to self defence. Two of Iran's neighbours have been attacked by the forces of USA and itself being eyed upon. The country is being threatened with sanctions which I believe are quite unjustified. Such a situation is only going to lead to covert defence programs by the Iranian government. Why is the US bent upon acting the nemesis?
Ali Asghar Shabbir, Lahore, Pakistan
What crisis are we talking about? Iran has signed to the NPT treaty which allows it to have nuclear technology for civilian use, and that is exactly what they are doing.
What confounds me is the tendency of those in Iran to pick fights they are ill prepared for, and resist resolving them advantageously until their backs are against the wall when they sell out. The hostage crisis, the war with Iraq, and now the protocol are just a few examples. Until Iran sorts out its differences with the US and Israel, it will go from one crisis to another. They face politics of power, not an international legal case.
Reza, Almaty, Kazakhstan
No, the crisis can not be resolved forever. It can be resolved only for the time being. Iran feels that its entity and security threatened by the US and Israel. So, how can it stop its nuclear program which would be a stronghold to deter any would-be aggression? However, I believe Iran will be hit and weakened by the US and Israel sooner or later. So, the crisis will not be resolved.
Nabil Abdel Ahad Abdel Baky, Cairo, Egypt
Iran will take a page out of North Korea's book. Tell the international community that they are not producing nuclear weapons, then all of sudden 8-10 years down the road produce these same weapons. I think it's foolish to put any faith in the comments of the Iranian Government.
Mike Daly, Hackettstown, NJ
Unfortunately, the different approach the US has taken towards North Korea and Iraq has taught the world an important lesson. If you have nukes, you are far less likely to be invaded by the US. Why wouldn't Iran learn this lesson? Iraq was the other country on Bush's "Axis of Evil" without nukes and look what it earned them.
Shawn, Washington, DC, USA
Iran should not make any promise that may compromise it security. What we have seen recently that proves that having nuclear weapon can deter some rogue superpower from attacking as in the case of North Korea. The Non Nuclear Proliferation is a bad deal. Because there will be no peace and stability in the world if others have weapon and others don't. Either no weapons at all or nations must be allowed to develop as a deterrence.
Mike Aziz, Vancouver, Canada
Although I know the amount of pressure that Iran has been under, I think that Iran and other Middle East countries should pull out of the treaty until Israel sign in. Moreover, I think that this step will be seen by the USA administration as a success to their polices and will continue to ask more from Iran and other countries.
I greatly appreciate and welcome the decision of the Iranian government as regard their promise to sign up for tougher UN inspections of its nuclear facilities. Their decision is highly positive and limits the tension and the possibility of more instability in the Middle East. I do strongly support President Bush and the United States government for Iran to be nuclear weapon free. The possession of Nuclear weapons by Iran will mean a direct threat to Israel and other neighbouring countries.
Saah Kpakar, Liberian in Ghana
Not to downplay Iran's move toward cooperation - a promising step - but Iran's promise will only allay the fears and reservations of the rose-tinted spectacle crowd. I'm sure there are factions within Iran that genuinely want to suspend nuclear weapons production, but the more conservative and hard-line mullahs will seek to continue building an arsenal capable challenging the West. I'm not for nuclear proliferation, but recent examples show that a nuclear-capable nation stands a better chance of standing up for itself. Witness North Korea and Pakistan. The day will not come soon enough when all nations finally destroy their nuclear arsenals and the means to replenish them.
I would love to think that it would foster confidence with the US which would be reciprocated and could form the basis of improved relationships. However it appears that the US has an anti-Iranian agenda, and this seems evident when you look at the fact that the US aims to discredit the notion that Iran needs nuclear energy by stating that it has plentiful fossil fuel reserves when it was actually originally a US government in the 70s that planned to develop eight nuclear power stations in the same country. This stinks of spin similar to the Iraq War lead up, although I am not insinuating that they want a war as such. But where there is this kind of spin, it is difficult to trust that the American viewpoint will be balanced and fair. Either way, let us hope and pray for the best, and an improvement in the Geopolitical scene. NT
NT, London http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/talking_point/3212038.stm